This November, a crowd of pioneering programmers will gather at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore to create applications that provide solutions to teachers, students and schools.
The American Education system is a large, complex structure. It is often targeted as a system that desperately needs improvement, yet its proportion makes is seem impenetrable and unchangeable. As technology advances schools struggle to keep up. Teachers work to find ways to use technology on their own to improve their systems locally and to reach students in more modern and relevant ways.
If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow. — John Dewey
Education Hack Day brings teachers and technologists together to create smart solutions to today’s education-related problems. Developers will create applications from ideas that are being crowdsourced from local teachers and administrators.
Imagine an app that automatically calls a parent when a student is marked as absent to let them know their child isn’t in school. Something like this could be built in a weekend and could help curb truancy.
Ted O’Meara, a Project Manager and User Interface Designer at Intridea will be at the event. He will be working on an open source BoardMaker-type application called Boardspeak that can be used by Speech Therapists working with individuals on speech rehabilitation, as well as assisting other populations facing cognitive impairments. Ted, who is also a grad student in the Human-Centered Computing Program at UMBC is no stranger to the relationship between education and technology. He continually looks for ways that usable, well-designed software can solve problems for others. Most recently, he has been working on CogConnect, a mobile rehabilitation application for stroke patients.
Other developers will be working on a cloud-based registrar, a large-scale student management package, a homework notifier app for parents, a Parent/Teacher conference scheduling application, converting science animations from Flash to HTML5 so teachers can show them to students on iPads, an application to aggregate information about literary events taking place in the area, among many other applications that address the emerging needs of educators in this mobile age.
Education Hack Day is the brain-child of Mike Brenner, a luminary in the Baltimore tech scene who has played a part in other ventures like Refresh Bmore and Startup Baltimore. Mike hopes the teams that create applications will go on to become sustainable product companies:
Our goal as event organizers is to provide the facility, the fuel (food + drinks), and the resources needed to creatively solve these problems. We also are working hard to make sure that the weekend doesn’t just end on Sunday. We want big companies and angel investors to reward our small teams and incentivise their continued progress through seed investments and pro-bono business development.
We’re proud to sponsor this event and we’re anxious to see the applications that will be created and what kind of impact they have. You can help by adding your own ideas for applications, commenting and voting on existing ideas, or by sponsoring the event!